The foundation stone of Carleton Street Orange Hall was laid on 1st July 1872. This particular moment in history has led to nearly 150 years worth of local heritage in Carleton Street Orange Hall.
The weather was quite poor on that particular day but it did not affect the proceedings of the ceremony. The ceremony was described as being “performed in a manner worthy of the occasion”.
Just after noon, the ‘Country Lodges’ and spectators marched into Portadown. The Orange Lodges had agreed to meet at 1:00pm ‘on the green’ where the hall would be built in Carleton Street. From that hour until shortly before 3:00pm, processions of the Brethren were continuously arriving.
Below is a list of the Lodges and their Worshipful Masters who were present.
- LOL 7 – R Ruddock
- LOL 8- H Mercer
- LOL 9- Thomas Hoy
- LOL 10- B Donnelly
- LOL 13- R Budd
- LOL 20- William Dyner
- LOL 25- George Sherman
- LOL 31- J Cooke
- LOL 40 – James Taylor
- LOL 56 – W J Locke
- LOL 58 – Albert Groabie
- LOL 78- Thomas Wright
- LOL 81- John Little
- LOL 89- George Robinson
- LOL 99- William G Dowey
- LOL 107- Malcolmson Moffet
- LOL 172- Rev C K Owen
- LOL 417 – J Patton
- LOL 1301- W J Sullivan
Each Lodge carried their banner. The banners were described in local newspaper reports as ‘without exception of rich quality and chaste design’. There was a platform set up at the site of the new hall. A large union flag in the centre, and one in each corner, where flown from the tower of St Marks Parish Church. During the early part of the afternoon the bells of the church were rung in honour of the occasion.
The platform party consisted of; Stewart Blacker Esq, Rev C K Irwin, Rev A J Are, Rev James Patton, Rev S Sullivan, Rev H W Left, Baroness Von Steglitz, Miss Belcher, Miss Stead, Mrs Sullivan, Miss McNally, Miss Crosslee, Miss Kate Carleton, Mr Thomas Carleton Esq, Dr Stuart W Hall Esq, Mr J Boyd Esq, R Pepper Esq, Mrs Pepper and Brother James Ruddock (D.M).
The proceedings began with Stewart Blacker stating that “they always commenced their proceedings with prayer and in reading a portion of scripture”. Reverend Irwin led the opening prayers while Reverend Patton read the 67th Psalm.
Stewart Blacker then began his speech. He welcomed all those present and paid tribute to the occasion and all the Brethren of Portadown Orange District.
” There is no District in the whole Orange Institution that holds such a historical place as the good district of Portadown”
– Stewart Blacker
Mr Blacker also paid tribute to the formation of the Orange Order and the first Grand Master. His uncle, Colonel William Blacker. He was immensely proud of this. Stewart Blacker then proceeded to show the crowd William Blacker’s Orange Sash. It had represented his position as Grand Master. The sash was described as ‘rather worse for wear, and rather faded’ but he went on to say that “it was worn by an honest-hearted Protestant, and will always be held by true Protestants as a genuine relic”. Stewart Blacker then produced an orange gown that had been worn by William Blacker’s wife, Anne. This was well received with laughter and applause by the crowd and there was three cheers given for the ladies.
Stewart Blacker then continued his speech by stating his hopes and expectations of the Portadown Orange Hall.
“In a Hall of our own we can meet comfortably and well, and ask our friends to it and speak our sentiments, and hear our minister of the various evangelical denomination. We can form a common platform of which Protestantism and the holy scriptures are the base of the foundations. We have often been spoken against because the poor and the humble man goes to the public house, but every poor and humble man has not got a large and fashionable club to receive him, and when he has been toiling and working, he is obliged to go somewhere to get refreshment. It is not the fault of of our institution; but by having an Orange Hall we can have a meeting place for men of all tastes for the principles of our Orange Lodges.”
– Stewart Blacker
The Belfast Newsletter 2nd July 1872
He finished his speech with the words;
“Put your trust in God, my boys, and keep your powder dry”
Inspiration for an Orange Hall
The inspiration for building Carleton Street Orange Hall began in Canada. Stewart Blacker visited Canada in July 1870. He was astonished and delighted by the Orange Order in Canada. They had beautiful halls and other buildings that were used for not just meetings but also large orange orphan institutions.
One particular building in Toronto used the main body for meetings, but it also had two great wings, referred to as ‘Orange Wings’. Within those wings of the building there was the Orange Institutions aged members and those who were past work. There was many advantages for the Orange Order in Toronto having this facility. One of the main advantages was that it meant their members were kept out of the poor house.
Laying the Foundation Stone
The official laying of the foundation stone was initiated when The Portadown Protestant Brass Band played “The Protestant Boys”. The Baroness Von Stieglitz was Called upon to officially lay the stone. Mr J Boyd from Belfast was the architect of the hall and he presented the Baroness with a silver trowel for the purpose of the occasion.
The silver trowel was supplied by ‘Messrs, Trelford and Co’ from Donegall Place Belfast. It had the following inscription:
‘Presented by the Orangemen of the District of Portadown to the Baroness Von Stieglitz of Carrickblacker on the occasion of her laying the first stone of Portadown Orange Hall, July 1st 1872’
Rev W Lett, from Bessbrook, read the dedication prayer and then the stone was lowered into place. The Baroness tapped the stone and declared it ‘duly laid in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost’. The foundation stone was a corner stone.
Who was Baroness Von Stieglitz?
Hester Anne Blacker was Stewart Blacker’s sister. Hester Anne married Baron Fredrick Von Stieglitz. He was a descendant of an aristocratic family from Pilsen, Bohemia. The family had settled in Cookstown, County Tyrone in 1802. The Baron emigrated from there to Australia where he married. He returned to Ireland on the death of his first wife. He married Hester Anne in 1859.
The Baron died in 1866 and the couple had no children. Baroness Von Stieglitz then devoted much of her life to Seagoe Parish Church and took a keen interest in the local community and people.
The Baroness was instilled with a great interest in the Orange Order and she often attended the Twelfth demonstrations with her uncle, Colonel William Blacker.
This interest led Hester Anne to donate money for the building of Carleton Street Orange Hall. The other major contributors towards the Orange Hall were Major Stewart Blacker and Miss Kate Carleton.
The Baroness also leased land at Seagoe for the building of an Orange Hall by Seagoe LOL 26.